Remembering The Windsor EF-3 Killer Tornado

DENVER (CBS4) – Tornadoes are fairly common during the warm season in Colorado, especially along and east of Interstate 25.

PHOTO GALLERY: Windsor Tornado

But while most are small and short-lived, occasionally, we can see large twisters, such as the one that touched down in Weld County on May 22, 2008.


The tornado that struck Windsor did everything that tornadoes aren’t supposed to do, especially in Colorado.

    • it touched down before noon – while a tornado can happen at any hour of the day, they are most common during the late afternoon and early evening hours in Colorado


    • it traveled in a northwesterly direction – most tornadoes are thought to travel from southwest to northeast, but occasionally, we see storms that can produce tornadoes which travel in different directions


    • it was on the ground for nearly 39 miles and at times was almost a mile wide – it’s very rare to see wide and long-track tornadoes in Colorado, but the Windsor tornado proved that they can, and do, happen


    • it happened close to the mountains and gained elevation as it traveled toward the northwest – it’s a myth that tornadoes can’t happen near mountains or in hilly terrain


The Windsor tornado initially touched down just northeast of Platteville and lifted about 6 miles northwest of Wellington. It produced extensive damage along it’s path with EF-3 rated damage near the Missle Silo Park Campground and in east Windsor.

The storm killed one person and injured 78 others.

Tractor trailers were flipped along Highway 85, 15 railroad cars were overturned and over 200 power poles were snapped or blown down, knocking out power to roughly 60,000 people.

Hail the size of baseballs also accompanied the storm, along with a smaller, EF-1 tornado near the town of Dacono.

Nearly 1,000 homes were damaged and roughly 300 homes were significantly damaged or destroyed. The Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association reported about $1 million of damage to transmission lines.

Private insurance claims totaled nearly $150 million, making it one of Colorado’s top 10 natural disasters.

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